Imi Letchenfeld; Champion fighter, Nazi Hunter and Father of Krav Maga
In the grip of 1930’s fascism in Europe, a young man named Imi Letchenfeld rose to help his community combat violent aggressors which included Nazi soldiers that attacked his community. Krav Maga was born under the terrible circumstances which plagued most of Europe; in fact Krav Maga was created in order to fight those circumstances. As Imi saw the growing danger, he began teaching those in his community practical self-defense forms that would enable them to protect themselves.
Who was Imi Letchenfeld?
Born to Samuel Letchenfeld, a chief detective and former acrobat, Imi owed most of his success to his father’s influence. Having trained under his father at a gym which he owned, Imi became a proficient boxer and wrestler and won several championships to prove it. It was this knowledge that he brought with him to Bratislava and used to help fend off Nazi soldiers and sympathizers. Imi fought and taught others to fight for as long as he could. When he later fled to what would eventually become Israel, his fighting techniques lived on and evolved however, first through him and then later through the generations to come.
The purpose of Krav Maga
The purpose of Krav Maga can be found in its humble origins and the needs of its creator. Imi needed a self-defense form that could be taught quickly and have powerful man stopping capability. Krav Maga offered that opportunity in that it was a practical form of self-defense that didn’t need the years of dedication that most martial arts forms required. It also offered a way for citizens to protect themselves in hand to hand combat as weapons were not something the average citizen had available. In Hebrew the word “Krav” means combat while “Maga” means touch and the self-defense form stays true to its name. While it may not have the finesse that other martial arts forms might, Krav Maga was made to be more effective than pretty. Krav Maga focuses on the idea of inflicting the most damage possible, making the throat, eyes, groin and other sensitive areas the focus of its attacks.
Krav Maga today
Today Krav Maga has evolved much from what Imi once taught, however it remains true to its principles. After being accepted as the formal martial art by Israel, it spread to different U.S. organizations including the FBI. It is now the official martial art for many government agencies around the world. Its policy of no rules makes it a perfect real world fighting technique useful to many men and women that find positions that lead them in the line of fire. It is also an excellent self-defense form for those that are looking for practical techniques that will get them out of a dangerous situation.